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School board’s annual report emphasizes inclusive culture

Equity, inclusion, and Indigenous education help board meet students' needs
Near North District School Board - File Photo - by Jeff Turl-crop
Near North District School Board / File photo by Jeff Turl

The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) released their annual report earlier this month, noting “positive momentum continues,” in the board’s commitment to fostering an inclusive learning culture.

In June, the board passed their multi-year strategic plan, which highlights the importance of maintaining an inclusive culture, while outlining four pillars that would help guide the board throughout the year.

Excellence in teaching and learning, innovation, relationships, and communications constitute the pillars.

Overall, the annual report is “one of accomplishment and success,” explained director of education Craig Myles.

“As part of our commitment to equity and inclusion,” the report details, an Equity Advisory Circle was created to help “engage community partners” with the board.

Three meetings were held this year, with representatives from OUTLoud, Children’s Aid Society of Nipissing and Parry Sound, the Metis Nation North Bay, and other organizations taking part.

The board “values and embraces students and employees with diverse backgrounds, identities, and personal experiences” the report highlights, and have been continuing to emphasize culturally responsive teaching.

This teaching “recognizes that all students learn differently and that these differences may be connected to background, language, family structure, and social or cultural identity.”

New resources that “support diversity and inclusion” are added “on an ongoing basis” to school libraries throughout the NNDSB, “so students will see themselves, their culture and identity reflected in their library books.”

Indigenous education remains paramount to the board. Currently, there are 24 Indigenous studies courses offered at the secondary level, and for younger students, “many tools and resources” are available.

“We have responsibilities to help close the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students,” the board’s report highlights, “and to educate all staff and students about Indigenous issues, including the residential school system, treaties, and the role of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”

The multi-year strategic plan will guide the board into 2026. As for this year’s annual report, Myles mentioned he was “happy and proud” of the work done to put it together, thanking the “strong team” who ensured its completion.

“Without these groups, this report would not be possible,” he said.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.